There is no greater group of cheer-leaders for the light sentences being handed down to murderers and criminals arrested with illegal weapons and ammunition, than the criminal lawyers in Jamaica.
As officers of the court, the Jamaican bar has become a disgusting lobby for criminals, in what appears to be a misunderstanding of their roles as defenders of the innocent and upholders of the laws.
The foregone was a paragraph pulled from an article I wrote on September the 4th of this year.
That paragraph was incorporated in a broader article which spoke to the inadequacy of the methodologies being employed in the crime fight. And more importantly, the fact that the laws are more beneficial to criminals than they are to law-abiding citizens.
Just over a week later and the most recent death of a young lawyer, Sashakay Fairclough in Ocho Rios, St Ann in a hail of bullets, Attorney at law Peter Champagnie found his voice as he addressed the court at the opening of the Michaelmas Term of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston.
“It is a sad reminder that none of us are immune from the savagery in terms of criminal conduct.”
Addressing Vivene Harris the presiding judge, Champagnie went on; “Having said that, my lady, I do believe that it behoves us at the private bar — especially those who practise at the criminal bar — to be mindful that while we remain guardians of the rights of individuals and defend our clients to the best of our ability within the confines of the law and all ethical standards, we have a greater responsibility in this new dispensation to …offer solutions in the way of crime-fighting and crime prevention,”
What an epiphany!
It seems to me some people only care about crime when it affects them or others in their circle or social class.
Crime has become a staple and a way of life in Jamaica, in terms of its acceptability. I cannot recall, neither as a young adult, a crime fighter, or as a former crime fighter back in civilian life, ever hearing lawyers speak out against crime.
I stand corrected if someone can produce evidence contradicting me on this.
I’m generally not one to question the motives of others, but I had to dig a little deeper to find out what was the reason for this totally unexpected call by one of the nation’s most prominent criminal defense attorneys?
And then the answer was right there in front of me.
Three (3) attorneys have been killed since the start of the year.
Conversely, since the beginning of the year up to August 25th, Jamaica has recorded 869 murders — among them 30 children.
If we subtract the (3) attorneys from that 869 number, we are left with a total of 866 Jamaicans murdered, including as I alluded to, (30) children.
None of that was important enough to activate the panic button in a single defense attorney, until their own began showing up on the stat sheets.
The truth of the matter is that crime in Jamaica has largely been seen as a poor people’s problem. Poor people live in underserved communities infested with criminals.
Poor people’s kids become police officers. Poor people’s kids join the army.
Poor people die at the hands of criminals, with the exception of a few anomalies which generally gets ignored. Say for example when a politician gets murdered for political expediency and life goes on.
The élite class is able to live out their fantasies as lords over the peasanty during the day. At night they retreat to the relative safety of their gated communities uptown, replete with high fences and armed guards.
For the rest of the country, it’s every man for himself.
Champagnie’s plea came as a result of the death of three of their own. The average Jamaican has no one to lobby on their behalf, so the deaths of (866) people are less significant than the deaths of (3).
Over the years using this medium, I have personally pointed to the complicity of bench and bar in the growth of crime in our country. In some cases, the lines between the guys who pull the trigger and their lawyers are so vague that they are indistinguishable.
In other cases, through greed lawyers end up in the docks as ordinary criminals.
Champagnie’s call to his colleagues for solutions to the Island’s crime problems, is merely a well couched acknowledgement of what we have been saying for years.
Surely, no one believes that trial lawyers coming up with solutions is what he is pleading for.
What he should say, is that his colleagues should end their associations with the criminal underworld for the good of the country and be done with it.
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, a business owner, avid researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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